EDUBOX International Relations Officer and Researcher and Lecturer Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria calls on Corporate Organizations to Invest in Public Education
Vastly, the most jarring issue today is the call of Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) for proper funding of the education sector by the Federal Government.
A sector if properly funded would provide the skillful ingredient for research, prosperity and development. The latitude between the skill set of graduates and being employable, social crimes, poverty are problems associated with improper learning resulting from epileptic condition of public education in Nigeria.
Public education is considered vacuous if not espoused by sufficient funding. The basic problem is the misrepresentation of the process or formation of the system of education, giving much ebullience to nothing but increasing the quantity of universities rather than its quality. Without proper funding of public education, then it’s disaster-prone and empty for the right to know and challenge misrule in the political space of the country.
Therefore, the fundamental question skirting the mind is, “Can the Government solely achieve the funding?” The answer to the big question is a resounding NO. Efforts to deal with the issue of quality education, however, have been handicapped by a real failure to understand their nature and possible remedies.
Conventional wisdom views that the government alone cannot achieve quality education and looks to other local institutions and international community for support. Clearly, promoting access, inclusion and opportunity in Nigeria is an issue that needs to be taken more carefully and seriously in order to be incorporated into an overall strategy of sustainable economic development.
Formulating such a strategy will not be easy. But it is in this context that corporations in its ethical domain of CSR needs to critically appraise alternative measures to revive the education sector for sustainable development because real progress in any corporation requires an authentic way of being responsible to the society to achieve a win-win outcome.
Corporate Social Responsibility has in recent times become increasingly recognized as a solution to socio-economic challenges; more of which conventional government policies are unable to address. It is the new solution that meets social and economic needs more effectively than existing ones and leads newly improved capabilities and relationships, which in turn enhance the capacity to act, perform and drive social change in an economy.
Darwin in his theory of natural selection stated “It is not the strongest among species that survive, nor is it the most intelligent, it’s those that are most adaptive to change.” Consistent with today’s rapidly changing world, the complexity of socio-economic challenges calls for innovative approaches, which are not only capable of catering for the diminishing resources, but also of effectively addressing various socio-economic issues relating to illiteracy, poverty, income inequality and social exclusion.
In emerging countries like Nigeria, in seeking to build vital economies, public education funding should be taken on an added value. Indeed, it has become clear that developing nations will not be able to make a forward march without the purposeful engagement and active contribution of corporations in societal affairs. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization reported that the underlying reasoning is that the competitive position and the national standing of a country and the well-being of its citizens are inextricably linked to environmental,
technological and competency challenges.
Despite the fact that education is recognized as a potential tool to drive social change, it should be clearly understood that it is the product of joint efforts, creativity and a shared vision of various actors across the economy to inspire a movement, create an enabling environment and affect the systematic change that will illuminate the transcendent power of our youth to create a niche for Nigeria in the league of economic powers through education.
Corporations themselves have an ethical domain in which they can contribute to the health and welfare of society as well as focus on prioritised areas that matter the most to the society, in line with the slogan “People First, Performance Now”. Certainly, a profound change in the prevailing CSR thinking has to take place in order for Nigeria to adequately address the primary challenges of offering job opportunities for a growing number of graduates, training the league of young leaders and maintaining social cohesiveness.
As the number of students and fields of specialization proliferate, all corporations, as part of their CSR, should be instrumental in meeting this new development by serving as a chamber for nurturing and cultivating skills, generating opportunities that allow the new graduates to earn decent pay, as well as have jobs.
The corporations should tap into talent pools traditionally considered unemployable, increase the diversity of its internal talent in their operating markets either through youth vocational skill training, development programmes, competitions, awards, or intrapreneurship workshops starting from Primary and Secondary levels. However, to successfully tap into these groups, corporations should invest in teaching infrastructure, design curricula, bringing in their practical experiences and ensuring a targeted skill development that prepares the students for Tertiary Institutions.
Focusing strategically on unmet societal needs will enable corporate organisations to identify and pursue new social innovation opportunities to expand our global relevance and growth as a nation. The economy as a whole stands to develop by corporate organisations investing in the education system, they will benefit from more skilled workers ready for the world of work in science and technology; converts ideas into feasible concepts; focus on the real problems or unmet needs being solved; focus on open mindset and willingness to rethink assumptions in the face of contradictory information; leverage on technology for growth and build the digital workforce of tomorrow.
Such investments can offer a pipeline of ideas to support Nigeria’s innovation and development agenda. Corporations should also as a social responsibility help in filling a pressing IT skills gap across the nation while building the capacity for its future workforce- a generation of global problem-solvers who can innovate as technologists, think as entrepreneurs and act as social change agents.